The Michigan State Housing Development Authority is joining with community partners across metro Detroit when the Fifth Third Bank Homeownership Mobile, better known as the eBus, rolls into Livonia Thursday, Aug. 12 as part of a kick-off to highlight the state’s $154.5 million Hardest Hit Fund home foreclosure prevention initiative.

The eBus is a 40-foot bus fitted with the latest wireless technology. This self-contained resource center will have home foreclosure prevention counselors manning an on-board computer bank with full wireless connectivity.

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The eBus and counselors will be available to residents at various events from Aug. 12 through Aug. 21. No appointment is necessary, all events are free to the public and you do not have to be a Fifth Third Bank customer to inquire about eligibility for mortgage assistance through MSHDA’s Hardest-Hit Fund.

The eBus will make its 2010 debut at 11 a.m. Thursday at the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency office in the Northridge Commons Shopping Center, 33523 W. Eight Mile Road in Livonia.

Michigan’s Hardest Hit Fund is designed to help homeowners who are currently receiving unemployment compensation, homeowners who have fallen behind in their mortgage payments or taxes due to a temporary layoff or medical emergency, and those homeowners who can no longer afford their mortgage payments due to lower income. It was developed in partnership with representatives from the Michigan Bankers Association, the Michigan Credit Union League, the Michigan Association of Community Bankers, the Michigan Association of Realtors, the Michigan Foreclosure Task Force and MSHDA’s statewide homeownership counseling network.

MSHDA has approved nearly 70 requests for mortgage assistance since the Hardest Hit Fund program launched July 12. The state housing agency anticipates it could take 12 to 18 months before the Hardest Hit Fund is entirely distributed.

President Obama announced $1.5 billion in funding earlier this year for innovative measures to help families in the states that have been hit the hardest by the aftermath of the housing bubble. MSHDA was selected as one of the five state Housing Finance Agencies to share in the Hardest Hit Fund investment with an award of $154.5 million. The amount was determined through a formula by HUD and the U.S. Dept. of Treasury that measured state unemployment and home value depreciation in 2009. The other four participating states are Arizona, California, Florida and Nevada. Michigan is the first of the nation’s five state HFAs to implement its plan.

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Fifth Third Bank has several community partners throughout Detroit that will help make the eBus program a success including MSHDA, WARM Training, DTE Energy, Department of Human Services, City of Detroit Office of Targeted Business Development, Detroit Area Agency on Aging, Detroit Public Schools Food Services, Youth Development Commission and Youth Build Detroit.

The purpose of the eBus is to partner with community organizations, nonprofit agencies, city and municipal departments and citizens to bring informational resources about homeownership, financial literacy and basic needs directly to the communities that have the greatest need.

This is the sixth year the eBus has visited Detroit. In 2009, about 2,100 Detroit residents stepped aboard the eBus. More than 260 visitors received free credit reports and 175 received one-on-one counseling sessions. This year, in addition to the focus on homeownership and financial literacy, the programming is geared toward increasing awareness around other timely initiatives such as the Michigan Hardest Hit Fund, homeowner preservation, money management, budgeting and basic needs like utility and food insecurity assistance.

“The housing market and banking industry have endured a tumultuous year and there have been many changes,” said Byna Elliott, Fifth Third Bank Senior Vice President of Community Development. “The focus of the 2010 E-Bus program is to establish a partnership with community organizations, nonprofit agencies, city and municipal departments and citizens to help community residents understand and gain access to resources and information to help improve their quality of life right where they are —  in their neighborhoods. Fifth Third believes that in order to build a better tomorrow we must meet the community’s needs today.”

For more information about the calendar of Fifth Third eBus event sites and community agency partners, call (800) 246-5372.

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